Parents close school for two days demanding the principal be investigated

The parents want the principal gone for reasons they say they previously raised with the Western Cape education department. Photo by Vincent Lali

The parents at the Cape Town primary school allege that the principal is corrupt and runs the school like an extortion racket.

Angry parents halted teaching and learning at Mzamomtsha Primary School in Driftsands near Mfuleni, for two days last week and demanded that Ndileka Kama be removed as school principal, accusing her of corruption and nepotism.

Kids played outside and inside the school premises while teachers basked in the sun. Community leader Teboho Saliwa said the parents shut the school down to draw the attention of the Western Cape Department of Education to their complaints. “We raised our grievances with the department three years ago, but it never dealt with them,” he said. Saliwa said parents were angry because Kama asks for bribes from teachers. “If you want to get a contract as a teacher, you pay. Once you get it, you pay until it ends. Extortion has been going on for years here,” he said, with Kama even forcing the parents who sell food and sweets inside the schoolyard to pay her R30 a week.

One teacher bought her a weave.

One teacher, who asked not to be named, alleged that she bribed Kama so she could give her a job.
“I paid money to get a job as a teacher two years ago. Four other teachers also bribed her last year,” she said. “She demands R3,000 up to R7,000. One teacher bought her a weave. The morale among the teachers is low because we fear her.” The teachers who bribe Kama battle to pay their bills: “We struggle to put our kids through school and support families, but we give her the money because we want to keep our jobs,” she said.

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Saliwa alleged that Kama inflates prices of materials when labourers fix the school and “pockets the extra money”. “She doesn’t employ Driftsands residents to do maintenance here because she knows they would expose her when she inflates prices of materials,” he said. Just for not employing local workers, he believes, she must be fired.

Parents want her to leave, Saliwa added, because the pass rate at the school is low and the quality of education poor. “I asked her about her plans to improve the school pass rate, but she never came back to me with a plan,” he said. Xoliswa Zondeka, a parent, said the principal locks latecomers out of the school. “I told the principal not to lock our kids outside the school gate because they may be stolen and raped, but she said it was not her fault if anything bad happens to them outside the schoolyard,’’ she recalled her saying.

Kama declined to comment when approached by Elitsha. The Western Cape education department said it is investigating the matter.

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